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Selling Yourself to Marketing Research: MyMp3 and Others

October 23, 2009 Leave a comment

My brother sent me a video the other day.  He filmed the band Dot Dot Dot doing an acoustic live version of one of their songs.  While I did not like the songs on the band’s website, I really did enjoy this acoustic rendering.  My initial reaction was… I have to get my hands on this audio file!  After searching their website and looking them up on Limewire, I started to realize that I wasn’t going to find the file.  My last and final option was using a freeware program called MyMp3.  This program records any sound that is streaming through your computer’s audio card.  It then saves the file and you can store it as an mp3 or wave.

So, I downloaded it.  I went to install it and I was prompted by a license agreement.  I was going to rush through it as I usually do…  But then, I remembered a conversation I had in class with a fellow student.  We jokingly said that these agreements probably sign your life away and no one seems to be bothered by it.  After some laughs we asked ourselves, what do they actually say?  Have you ever read one?  Have you ever sat down and analyzed the entire agreement before agreeing to it?

Of course, I stopped myself and started to read the agreement for MyMp3.  Check out how ridiculous it is…

“In order to provide this free download, RelevantKnowledge software, provided by TMRG, Inc., a comScore, Inc. company, is included in this download. This software allows millions of participants in an online market research community to voice their opinions by allowing their online browsing and purchasing behavior to be monitored, collected, aggregated, and once anonymized, used to generate market reports which our clients use to understand Internet trends and patterns and other market research purposes. The information which is monitored and collected includes internet usage information, basic demographic information, certain hardware, software, computer configuration and application usage information about the computer on which you install RelevantKnowledge. We may use the information that we monitor, such as name and address, to better understand your household demographics; for example, we may combine the information that you provide us with additional information from consumer data brokers and other data sources in accordance with our privacy policy. We make commercially viable efforts to automatically filter confidential personally identifiable information and to purge our databases of such information about our panelists when inadvertently collected. By clicking Accept, you acknowledge that you are 18 years of age or older, an authorized user of this computer, and that you have read, agreed to, and have obtained the consent to the terms and conditions of the Privacy Statement and User License Agreement from anyone who will be using the computer on which you install this application.”

The moral of the story is simple; something that’s “free” probably isn’t.  In this post-post-modern era we live in, corporations are getting smart about how they attract users.  Facebook, Myspace, Blogs, Gmail, Chrome and so on, are all free to use because the companies who own them sell all this data to the highest bidder.  Ad companies, marketers, large corporations… they all want to know about you.  They want to know how to market their products.  Obviously, it’s hard not to use such products, but the low budget ones like MyMp3 are probably better left alone.  So, be careful about what “free” products you use, because you’ll end up selling yourself.